La Maison | Fresh-hopped Pils

La Maison | Fresh-hopped Pils

Spring of 2018 I excitedly planted my first hop rhizomes in the rather basic garden of our new home.  Sadly, my first year’s crop was struck by downy mildew, dashing my hopes of a fresh-hop brew that season. It was with great joy then, to find that this season my year-two plants grew with great vigour, producing a serious harvest!

The hops in their infancy

Thankfully on this occasion my hops were also unaffected by any form of fungus. I’d heard that downy mildew tended to infect a plant right down to its root system, and hence should really be dug out and discarded. I didn’t follow that advice, and am glad of it. I did spray the plants with an anti-fungal solution once I’d cut them to ground level come winter, so perhaps this was part of the solution. I do wonder whether I over-watered last year too, having read that downy mildew tends to flourish when the leaves are wet.

A touch overwhelming really

With Sophie’s help I managed over a kilo of fresh cones for the brew, around two thirds being Cascade. The plan was for a small Magnum pellet bittering addition, with all of the fresh hops added at flameout for a whirlpool.

La Maison
Fresh-hopped Pils
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Batch Size (L): 45
Total Grain (kg): 10.66
Anticipated OG: 1.052
Anticipated SRM: 3.7
Anticipated IBU: 40.0
Brewhouse Efficiency (%): 70
Wort Boil Time (mins):  60

Grain
———
93.80% 10.00 kg. Gladfield Pilsner Malt
6.20% 0.66 kg. Gladfield Gladiator Malt

Hops
——
58.00 g. Magnum (Pellet, 11.80% AA) @ first wort.
1065.00 g. Mixed hops, primarily Cascade (Fresh whole cone, unknown %AA) @ flameout, 30-minute whirlpool.

Yeast
——
Saflager W-34/70 dry yeast, four packets

Water Profile
——————
Ca 68 | Mg 8 | Na 6 | SO4 88 | Cl 62

Mash Schedule
——————
Sacch Rest – 60 min @ 67 °C

Notes
——
15.3.20 – Brewed  with Sophie.

– Mash settled at 64 °C

– 60 minute boil, 30 minute whirlpool with bagged fresh hops added at flameout. Only dropped to 91 °C, hence I’ll likely have picked up a few extra IBUs here.

– Chilled to 30 °C. OG = 1.049 (12.1 Brix). Aerated by splashing into fermenter 1250 hrs, set to 10 °C.

16.3.20 – Pitched yeast at 0700hrs (13 °C), continued to cool to 10 °C.

24.3.20 – 8.0 Brix

25.3.20 – CO2 slowing, ramped to 12.5 °C, increasing by 2.5 °C every 12 hours aiming for 18 °C. 

31.3.20 – Stable at 5.8 Brix.

1.4.20 – Crashed to 10 °C, aiming for 2 – 3 °C.

4.4.20 – Kegged 30 litres with no clarifying agent (as ~19 litres intended to go onto apricots for a fruited sour).

OG 1.049, FG 1.008, ABV 5.4%

Early days

Tasting Notes 16.4.20
——————————

Appearance

Brilliantly white head with reasonable retention. Golden, hazy, a touch darker than my Czech Pils – could having omitted purging my keg with CO2 prior to filling be responsible? The lack of off-flavours thankfully suggests not. I predict the colour will lighten as it clears. 

Aroma

Initially fairly closed when served cool, then very suddenly comes alive with a bouquet of tropical fruits.

Taste

I targeted a higher level of sulfates in this beer compared to my Czech Pils, and it certainly comes across as a sharper, crisper beer. Bitterness takes the lead initially, though as the beer warms, bright tropical notes open up. The malt is fairly restrained, however I do still find the lovely grape-y notes of Gladfield’s Pilsner malt in the background. No signs of oxygen ingress here thankfully.

Mouthfeel

About right. Definitely fuller than you’d find in an International Pale Lager, likely gaining some body from the Gladiator malt.

Drinkability and notes

Having tasted this beer right from its hazy period through to current relative clarity, I’d advocate for a degree of patience with letting this style clear. Although there feels a degree of urgency to consume this fresh-hopped beer quickly, the astringency from the haze initially detracted from the purity of the style, and I’m enjoying it more in its clearer form.

Here’s to fresh hops!

B.

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